Labour’s populist deficit and the future of work

Arrogance bred intransigence last Thursday. The contest spilled into Waitangi weekend. What’s going on? Where is Labour in this?

The government’s secretive conduct of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, coupled with John Key’s dismissal of opponents as hater-and-wrecker ideologues or know-nothings who don’t know what is good for them, elicited exactly the response you would expect in a modern participatory democracy.

read more

Can the Treaty stretch to reach other cultures?

Waitangi Day looms. National day or holiday? A day to validate our national story or a day at the beach or the mall? A day of substance or a day of symbol?

Some think Anzac Day is our real national day, marking, they say, our coming of age in World War I.

That war did make white New Zealanders aware Mother-Britain could get things wrong (Gallipoli and much else) and feel a bit different from home-grown Poms.

read more

Not a bad place to be in a disordered world

This year the world became more disordered. That disorder will stretch into 2016. The good news is we have some strengths.

The loudest noise in the disorder comes from the disciples of death in the Middle East.

The arbitrary dismemberment of the Ottoman empire by imperious European victors in the war we are commemorating (1916 was a bad year) have proved to be illusory lines in the sand, blown away by the winds of sectional hate.

read more

Christmas, (in)humanity and the inequality thing

It’s Christmastime and two journalists have something to say to us. Journalists? Aren’t they cynical, despised more even than politicians?

One I know well: Brent Edwards, director of news gathering at Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

On RNZ’s website in June Edwards, then political editor, quoted from a funeral tribute in May to Peter Conway, former Council of Trade Unions secretary, that Conway, was “soft on people, hard on issues”.

read more

The year of a man with firm thrust and good humour

After 2014’s election in a bubble, 2015 has been a year in political suspension.

Opinion polls shuffled: National only a couple of dips from high 40s, Labour just back over 30, Greens 11-12, New Zealand First around 7, the rest in tiddler territory.

There was a frisson in March when National bumbled the Northland by-election. Winston Peters’ win gave electoral voice to many provinces’ muttered assertions of government neglect.

read more

The old or the new? Responses (or not) to turmoil

On Friday a few score current and former MPs and partners will over dinner commemorate a signal political event: the election of the first Labour government.

This was at a time of unstable global politics, soon to generate a world war, and economic disequilibrium after a deep depression.

Friday’s celebration (coming soon before a shadow cabinet reshuffle) has been got up by Stuart Nash, great-grandson (by adoption) of Sir Walter Nash, 14 years Finance Minister and three years Prime Minister.

read more

Dead cats, fiscal transfers and climate (in)action

The short story last week was John Key’s teenlike lash-out under pressure over Malcolm Turnbull’s treatment of deportees. That reaction to pressure is becoming a pattern.

It is unbecoming to him and to the country, which, also teenlike, he calls Newzealn.

Rob Salmond, Labour’s resident political scientist and campaign numbers guy, mined the advice of Lynton Crosby (of Crosby/Textor) to London mayor Boris Johnson to suggest Key’s attack on Labour for “backing rapists” was to divert attention by throwing a “dead cat” on the table.

read more